Over the past two years, Leah Stafford began mysteriously gaining weight.

According to the Mirror, when the 22-year-old British woman first started putting on the pounds, she had been working hard to stay healthy through diet and exercise. Stafford was admittedly confused by the way her body was responding to all of her hard work.

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She told the Mirror:

“I had started dieting but I just seemed to be gaining weight if anything and a few people had asked me how far gone I was which took me back, it made no sense.

I was trying to lose weight yet I was going up in dress sizes rather than down and couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong.”

And as time went on, Stafford continued to gain weight and inevitably went from a size 14 to a size 20.

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Eventually, after Stafford found herself in excruciating pain one August night, her fiancée, Richard Mason, took her to the hospital for help. As the Mirror reported, doctors initially told her that there was nothing for her to worry about:

“When I first got to Sheffield Northern General, they thought it was appendicitis and I was given painkillers and oral morphine to take the pain away and discharged.

I spent the whole night waiting to see a doctor but the painkillers weren’t touching the pain, it was excruciating. I was told that there was nothing to worry about.”

Stafford would later come to find out that her doctor was very wrong. She continued:

“When I arrived home the pain intensified and I couldn’t move or sleep so I decided to go to Chesterfield Royal Hospital for a second opinion.”

It was after Stafford went looking for a second opinion that she learned a “potentially fatal” 26-pound cyst was growing inside of her. The cyst was pressing on both her ovaries and her bladder.

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After having 13-liters of fluid drained from the cyst, Stafford immediately dropped 28 pounds:

“I couldn’t believe the difference.”

However, because of the damage that the cyst had already caused, Stafford and Mason are worried it will now be very difficult for them to start a family. As the Mirror reported, Stafford was forced to have one of her ovaries removed:

“I was really worried this would affect my chances of becoming pregnant as there was a risk that they may need to remove one of my ovaries during surgery, which unfortunately was true.

I now have 50 percent less of the chance of falling pregnant as I did before and I’ve found it really difficult as I was desperate to have children.”

She hopes that by sharing her story, no one will have to endure a misdiagnosis the way she did.

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Stafford acknowledged that the first hospital’s lack of interest in her well-being could have cost her her life. Now she’s encouraging others to listen to their intuition when it tells them something wrong:

“I would urge any woman with stomach pains to get checked and if they’re still in pain to seek a second opinion.”

The hospital that dismissed Stafford is currently “looking into” how she was cared for the night she arrived.

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